August 24, 2006

Bernstein: Stray Straws and Straw Men (39-45)

'Whatever gets written gets written in a particular shape, uses a particular vocabulary and syntax, & a variety of chosen techniques. Whether its shape, syntax & vocabulary result from an attraction (or ideological attachment to) the organic and spontaneous, or to some other look, it is equally chosen. Sometimes this process takes place intuitively or unconsciously (the pull of influence comes in here since somewhere in the back of the mind are models for what looks natural, personal, magical, mystical, spontaneous, automatic, dreamlike, confessional, didactic, shocking). Sometimes it is a very conscious process. Any way, you're responsible for what turns up. Free association, for example, is no more inherently 'natural' than cutting up: & neither is in any sense 'random'. One technique may be used because a decision is made to use subconscious material. Another may be used to limit vocabulary of the poem to words not self–generated. In either case, various formal decisions are made & these decisions shape the work.' (43)

'Writing necessarily consists of attaching numerous bits and pieces together in a variety of ways. & it comes to a point here you feel any composition is artifice and deceit. & the more 'natchural' the look the more deceptive. That any use of language outside its function of communicating in speaking is a false hood (cf. Laura Riding). Or even that language itself—everywhere conditioning our way of seeing & meaning— is an illusion (as if there were something outside language.

Or take it this way: I just want to write—let it come out— get in touch with some natural process—from brain to pen—with no interference of typewriter, formal pattern. & it can seem like the language itself—having to put it into words— any kind of fixing a version of it—gets in the way. That I just have this thing inside me—silently—unconditioned by the choices I need to make when I write—whether it be to write it down or write on. So it is as if language itself gets in the way of expressing this thing, this flow, this movement of consciousness.

But there are no thoughts except through language, we are everywhere seeing through it, limited to it but not by it. Its conditions always interpose themselves: a particular set of words to choose from (a vocabulary), a way of processing those words (syntax, grammar): the natural conditions of language. What pulses, pushes, is energy, spirit, anima, dream, fantasy: coming out always in form, as shape: these particulars, 'massed at material bottoms' in hum of this time—here now—these words, this syntax & rhythm & shape. The look of the natural as constricted, programmatic—artful—'lying words' as the most abstract, composed or formal work.' (44)

The L=A=N-G=U=A-G=E Book . Ed. Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois Press, 1984.


- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Desmond Swords

    I write to keep insanity from
    clawing a way outward

    An anti-spam answer
    the colour of comment

    and a mystic form of comedy
    recording Charles

    politically orange syntax in
    his handbook of poetic

    grammer.

    ~

    Does we write real information and prove it
    not in a meaningless maze of verbiage

    but in a vision of poetic grammer
    demonstrating our true knowledge of real

    poetry Zoe?

    28 Sep 2006, 01:45


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